Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Fog, comfy, day off

 If you squint a bit..

Melbourne got its fog on again today. It was a little foggy when I left for work and it never fully receded before creeping back in the late afternoon as the sun was sinking. It was so thick in places I could only just see the top of the Arts Centre spire protruding out of the blanket of white. It was strangely patchy.
(ignore the reflections)

I bought some new trackie pants (sweatpants) on the weekend. I won't be wearing them out of the house, but gosh, they are cosy and comfy.

It's my birthday on Saturday week and I've taken the Friday off before. Yay.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Red balloons, new socks, tender lamb

Yesterday afternoon at work we were surprised by a flock of red balloons floating up past our 47th floor windows. There was a chorus of delight as they wafted upwards. (I think it was the launch of Red Nose Day). And no, I'm not sure if there were 99 red balloons.

New sports socks - the kind with full terry cushioning all around - are rather pleasing. So white. So soft. So cushiony.

I ate a delicious Hungarian lamb stew today. The meat was fall-apart tender and seasoned with exactly the right amount of spice. Very hearty and warming. Yum.

One of my online friends sent me an email this week with the most breathtaking black and white photos of African animals. While googling a link, I read that the photographer, Nick Brandt, doesn't use zoom or a telephoto lens. Woah! You can see a few of them here.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Inner urban grit and gardens

I walked into the city this morning and caught a train to the very multicultural and rather...gritty inner western suburb of Footscray. I've been through there on the train many times, but I've never stopped there. I thought it might be a good place for some photos of old signs and urban decay.

My exploring was cut short because I started to feel unwell, but I did get some good photos of old signs. This is my favourite:

For your convenience, fresh made Darrel Lea chocolates and candies.

Here's a couple more:

Trocadero Arcade

It's been a long time since Melbourne had 6-digit phone numbers

Carpet City...something

I detoured through the gardens just before I got home and took a few photos there too.


I'm always surprised to see a bee in winter.
Strange flower, too.

Dead head

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Walking: it's ace

Walking is something many able-bodied people take for granted. Indeed, it only occurred to me recently after a comment from a friend how much walking enriches my quality of life: so much of what I write about and photograph I see while I'm on foot. 

Gillian (hello!) commented in response to one of my posts on this blog (or was it Girl in Melbourne?) that there was very little that escaped my gaze. I replied that writing Gleeful and having a photo blog have trained me to take notice, particularly of small things. Then she said she missed so much because she was always whizzing by in her car.

Of course! I hadn't given that a lot of thought, but it's so obvious. I've never owned a car and I've always been a walker, especially in the last six years living on the fringe of the CBD. I walk to and from work most days, I'm often out and about doing stuff on weekends and wandering the Botanic Gardens, the city or the inner suburbs with camera in hand.

If I lived in the suburbs and commuted to work, my blogs would be vastly different.  I suppose it's a combination of walking a lot and being fortunate to live in such a picturesque part of the Melbourne.
If I didn't walk so much in my little part of the world,  I wouldn't see all those birdie couples nearly every day (the plovers, the swans, the ducks) or the flying foxes at dusk. I wouldn't be able to closely observe the elms beside the river transitioning from season to season, to smell the musty aroma of wet autumn leaves on the ground.  I wouldn't be able to admire the reflection of the city lights on the Yarra every day or take in the view of the CBD from my various favourite vantage points. I wouldn't have seen dolphins or jellyfish or fish in the river. 

I wouldn't have so many photos of old painted signs around the inner suburbs of Melbourne. I probably wouldn't even have developed an interest in them at all. I wouldn't know Melbourne -  its laneways, hidden charms and beautiful buildings - as well as I do if I experienced it mainly by car or public transport, and only came to the city for work. Feet were made for exploring; cars were made for getting places quickly.

Walking has deepened my connection with my town, and helped me feel closer to nature despite living less than two kilometres from the centre of the city. It allows me to slow down, to stop and take things in.  Walking...it's awesome.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

More fog, more sun, more signs

It was very foggy until nearly midday today.  I love fog, partly because it usually gives way to a clear sunny day, which is what happened today. It was yet another gorgeous winter's day. I took these photos from my flat.

The Nylex clock


The city begins to appear

I took this one just after leaving home. The fog cleared
before I got to the city

I skived off the gym today (I'm still sore from walking up Hanging Rock....that's my excuse anyway) and wandered into town, shedding my gloves and earmuffs as the exercise and sunshine warmed me. I saw a little girl in grungy Centre Place holding a large red balloon. Sadly there were too many people passing by for me to get a good shot. Dagnammit.

I picked up some old family photos I had scanned to CD. There's some great photos of my paternal grandfather, who died before my brother and I were born, and a nice one of my parents taken before I was born. There's also lots of cool photos of old cars. I plan to do something with them, I'm just not sure what yet. Some sort of collage, I think.

My grandfather Mick and old car

Then I poked around vintage clothing, homewares and book shops in the city and Brunswick, but only bought a photography book.

I had planned to be in the Carlton Gardens at sunset to take photos, but I didn't get there until it was dark and was pleasantly surprised to see the Hochgurtel fountain in full...spray? It looked spectacular lit up by spotlights. I suppose it must be on all the time now the drought is over. Yay.

I spotted some old signs in Brunswick.

Moran & Cato (a department store)

Moran & Cato Tea Warehouse - I saw this sign a few
months ago but forgot to take a photo

Off Fitzroy Street. I can't make out what it says

And look in the background of one of the old photos I had scanned! An ad for Robur Tea. (I don't know who the couple is or where it was taken.)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

My second remarkable tree

Remember my book of Australia's remarkable trees?  Today I visited the Algerian Oaks in the Botanic Gardens planted by Australia's first Governor-General, Adrian Louis Hope, and his family in 1895.

The largest one was planted by the G-G's then four-year-old son, Charles Melbourne Hope. It's a giant - 24 metres high and with a canopy 37 metres across. Algerian Oaks are semi-evergreen, which is why it still has plenty of foliage.

Adrian Louise Hope was the Earl of Hopetoun, and the steep grassy slope which the oaks stand watch over is called Hopetoun Lawn.

There's also a remarkable tree in the grounds of the Shrine of Remembrance, but I forgot to check what it was and where it grows before Luke and I set off for the gardens. I looked in the book when we got back and the tree is noteworthy indeed. It's a Turkish Pine grown from a cone off a single pine tree that grew on a plateau of the Gallipoli Pensinsula until it was destroyed during WWI (while it was a lone pine, the book doesn't say explicitly that it was the pine tree that gave Lone Pine its name. I'm assuming...).

An Australian soldier took the pine cone as a souvenir and carried it with him until the end of the war. He gave it to his aunt after he returned and she grew four seedlings from it, one of which was planted at the Shrine. Next time I'm over that way, I'll visit it.

I feel quite lucky to live a short walk from three of Australia's remarkable trees  - four if you count the Separation Tree, which has historical significance for Victoria, but it's not in the book. This river red gum, estimated to be 400 years old, also grows in the Botanic Gardens and was the site of celebrations to mark the separation of Victoria from New South Wales in 1850.

Luke and I wandered back through the gardens and saw this tree. Prickly! No need for possum guards on this one, eh?  Don't know what sort of tree it is; Luke dubbed it the F--k Off tree.

I also spotted a little patch of these fairy thingies lit up by the sun on Huntingfield Lawn. I spent five minutes lying on my stomach taking close up shots. I'm obsessed with taking photos of these things.

Friday, June 10, 2011

A drizzly day out

The trip to Mt Macedon today turned out to be a lot gloomier and damper than expected, but the clouds and misty rain had a sort of charm of their own.  We left behind a beautiful sunny morning in Melbourne and hit heavy grey skies and showers on the way.

First we drove up Mt Macedon, past huge houses with lovely grounds,  to see the Memorial Cross. As we walked up the path to where it stood, it suddenly loomed out of the drizzle before us.

Here's the view from the lookout....

After that we headed to the famous Hanging Rock, the setting of the classic Australian novel and movie Picnic at Hanging Rock. The clouds had started to lift, and by the time we got to the summit, we could see the surrounding countryside.

I saw a small segment of a rainbow in the distance.

It was the first time either of us has been to Hanging Rock. I liked it - lots of lichen-covered, pinnacle-shaped rocks to climb on and around (carefully, the rocks were wet and slippery), panoramic views, some impressive eucalyptus trees, and there is a slightly spooky feel to it, or maybe that's all in the mind. At one stage Luke and I headed off in separate directions and I couldn't find him. I waited in the same spot for a while and there was no one else around. When I called out, he didn't answer. I admit I got a mild dose of the heebie-jeebies (plus I was worried he'd fallen off!).

The Hanging Rock formation is a mamelon, which comes from the French word for nipple (If you click on the link above you'll see why). I find this rather amusing, because I'm juvenile and because nipple is a funny word. A mamelon (geologically speaking) is a rock formation created by viscous lava pushing up through a narrow crack in the earth.

The actual Hanging Rock formation for which the mamelon (teehee)
has become known. Its proper name is Mt Diogenes.

Oh, it was rather chilly, but I was very toasty in my fat, puffy parka with furry hood.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Long weekend, parka weather, bird watching

Yay! My extra-long weekend is here! Luke and I are planning a day trip to Mt Macedon and Hanging Rock tomorrow, where the top temperature is only going to be around 9 degrees. Brrrr! But you know what this means? My puffy parka will get its first outing for the year. it should be a mostly fine day so I'm looking forward to giving my new camera a work out too.

On my walk this morning I saw a magpie toying with a wriggly worm (aka breakfast) it had pulled out of the ground. Tonight I spied a Nankeen Night Heron standing as still as a statue in the reeds on the river's edge. They are an odd looking bird.

Have I mentioned how much I love my warm flat? No? I love it a lot. It's so nice getting up to a warm flat and coming home to a warm flat. (It's an old building and we have no control over the heating. It seems to be on all the time, which I know isn't environmentally friendly, but what can I do? I do what I can for the environment on other ways).

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sunshine, rolling, long weekend

Another gorgeous winter's day in Melbourne. My walk into the city this afternoon to go to the gym (again!) was very pleasant. The autumn leaves are still falling. I saw sleepy ducks and children rolling down the big hill at Birrarung Marr.

I have asked to take this Friday off work, which would give me a four-day long weekend (and two four-day working weeks). Can't wait. It's too hard to go away (even overnight) while I'm on this allergy elimination diet, but a day trip or two is on the cards.

I've been on the diet for two weeks now and I'm finally making some good progress. Yay! At last!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

House spotting, The Muppet Show and rudie bits

It's been a while! This is the old post office in Windsor

I paid a visit to the Crepuscular exhibition at the City Gallery on my lunch break yesterday. As well as a display of stuffed creatures and owl wings, there was an aerial photo of the city and very inner suburbs from 2004 and my house was on it (not that it was my house in 2004). It wasn't quite as gleeful as the time I found a calendar with photos of Melbourne and my house was in the picture on the front cover (albeit very tiny).

Luke and I started watching The Muppet Show on DVD last night. Ah, memories. The first show features the famous Ma-na-ma-na segment. I think I might watch more tonight.

I bought a book yesterday called Carnal Knowledge which explains the etymology of the words we use to describe parts of the body (correct biology terminology a well as common phrases and slang). Yes, I admit that while looking at it in the shop, I flicked straight to Chapter 5: Below the Belt. C'mon, who wouldn't?

We are having a lovely winter so far. There was more blue sky and sunshine today - I walked to my osteopath appointment in a T-shirt (and jeans).

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Winter's here

About 8.30 this morning

Happy first day of winter, Southern Hemisphereans! And what a glorious start to winter it was. Yes, it was icy, but the sky was blue and the sun shone and it was delightful. Sadly, I was confined to the office all day, but I see tomorrow is meant to be equally lovely.

I wore my furry earmuffs on the walk to and from work. My ears were toasty. In fact, they were sweaty by the time I'd reached my destination!

I set a new personal best in the Global Corporate Challenge yesterday - 21,496 steps! That's more than twice the target. I walked to work, took a 20 minutes stroll at lunch time, walked to the gym, did my 45 minute workout and then trudged home.  I also found out today that my daily step count puts me in the top 15% of the 126,000 participants. Go, me! I am also a whopping 417% more active than the average office worker.

Footsteps in the dew (not mine)